Fear, Confidence & Courage (A Simple Tip to Combat That 3am Awake Time)

Manage yourself when that pesky brain wakes you up in the middle of the night.

3am and I can’t sleep again. Every business decision that is waiting at the door is now actually waiting at the door. I have two choices, head to the couch and turn on the TV for distraction, or lie here for another hour with my head spinning until I hopefully fall asleep.

Every one of you has been confronted with business getting in the way of a sound sleep.

Some of you chalk it up to part of the pact with the entrepreneurial devil kind of like Robert Johnson and Crossroads. Some of you will attempt to trick yourself back to sleep usually by diverting your mind to something calming or changing your breathing patterns.

There are the usual suspects in terms of trying to prevent middle-of-the-night awakenings including:

  • Getting more exercise
  • Cutting back on alcohol
  • Removing digital devices within one hour of sleep.

I feel as those are good practices to put into play, but they don’t get to the heart of the issue and like a good doctor, we want to treat the disease not the symptoms.

The essential issue at hand is fear and there are two ways you can deal with your fear in this moment:

  1. You can have the courage to go forward despite what your brain is telling you, or
  2. You can gain confidence from the fact that you have been here before and you have managed yourself through the fear.

It is really that simple. Chose one and process it while lying there.

I like this definition of courage: the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. If you are more than a few months into your startup, you have already conquered a healthy dose of your fear and you have shown an amazing amount of courage. You got it, now draw on it!

Confidence the angle this time? Let’s head back to Merriam-Webster again and find the definition of confidence: the faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper or effective way. You have acted on faith to start this venture. You believe that your concept is the right idea at the right time and have acted on it in so many ways. Seize those hundreds of mini-decisions and take onto you a confidence that you can handle any decision coming at you.

Courage or Confidence – either path is the right path to managing your fear.

This article first appeared in INC.COM – find more of my articles there.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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